Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy fountain pens.

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Staying indoors means too much time to futz around on the internet and fuel my fountain pen fever. Small pen day with Pilot Kakuno (M) and Sailor HighAce Neo calligraphy clear (2.0mm)!

These two pens had similar packaging, so I took photos of them together.

Pilot Kakuno (m) with green cap and dark gray body

I love the cute face on the nib of my Pilot Kakuno! The packaging is very charming too. I'm weak for anything small and cute (Kakuno is for kids). I'm glad that the barrel was more of a warm dark grey than black like the photos. I was originally hoping to get the cream/yellow one, but they were discontinued, so I (bitterly?) took this colourway instead. Now that I see it in real life, I love it!

The pen wrote super smoothly out of the package! It's short and stubby. Now I look at my Pilot metro and think about how it isn't nearly as cute.

Sailor HighAce Neo clear calligraphy 2.0mm

The heart breather hole and clear feed are lookers on this pen. I find that it writes kind of dry. These days I use it to fill in larger areas of black. I have no calligraphy skills :).

For both pens I have the given black cartridge in there, and I'll syringe fill it later when it's used up. No exciting inks for now!

They're both really small compared to most of my other pens.

The Neo HighAce came with double sided sheet tutorial, one for how to do calligraphy. It's a nice touch/gesture, even though I really don't have the patience and motor skills for calligraphy, so this is just an insane stub pen for me to use to write headers for now. The Kakuno also came with charming wiggly handdrawn-looking instructions. I assume to appeal to kids, which I seem to be at heart. I like these personified talking nib heads a lot, they're just so pleasant!!

I've always wondered why cartridges aren't longer, because there is clearly MORE space left...? Perhaps it has something to do with pressure and vacuum?

Today's music post: The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts [For these Virtual Days session]. There's also an interesting re-arranged-ish version with a lot of other artists/musicians/voice actors here.

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Last updated October 28 2020!

Notebooks, sketchbooks, paper

Use case Brand Size/model Status
Long term planner and journal Midori MD A5 Notebook diary (2020) ~104/113 lined pages used
Short term planner and desk calendar Midori A5 Flat Diary (2020) ~28/36 pages used
Commonplace book Midori MD A5 notebook gridded ~35/176 pages used
Creative notebook Wai Au ? Shiba Inu cover, cross grid ? ~61/168 pages used
HWA 4-panel comics Plenty Steps A5 Info & Sketch BOOK ~13/40 pages used
Scrappy watercolour Seawhite ? William Holman Hunt cover, spiral bound ? ~34/50 pages used
Writing letters Life Via Airmail ?/50
Futzing with inks Sakae Technical Paper A4 Tomoe River 52gsm loose leaf white and cream, handbound to A5/A6 booklets ?

So many books waiting for next round use: Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Life, Life x Kleid, Maruman Mnemosyne, Delfonics Rollbahn, Laika Línea, Kyokuto F.O.B., Logical Prime, more Midori MDs, etc.

Fountain pens and inks

Brand Model Nib Ink
Lamy Safari (yellow) F Sailor Kobe #21 Taisanji Yellow
Pilot Metropolitan (lizard, bronze) M Waterman Absolute Brown
TWSBI Eco (clear) 1.1mm stub J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe
Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (black, manually cut down) EF Platinum Carbon Black
Opus 88 Omar (yellow) M Lamy Turmaline
Ranga Regular Sugarcane (olive ebonite, matte, eyedropper) Kanwrite flex Diamine Meadow
Pilot Kakuno (green/gray) M Pilot black cartridge
Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy 2.0mm Sailor black cartridge
FPR Himalaya v2 GT (Saffron Orange) Ultraflex FPR Royal Flush Blue
FPR Himalaya v2 (Taj Mahal White) 1.0mm stub Not working
Pelikan 400 NN (green striped), vintage/used (1950-1960s) M, 14k gold Diamine Wagner
Pilot Elite 95s (burgundy, Japanese market version) EF, 14k gold Sailor Kobe #27 Kounan Maroon

I also have some other sample tubes that I'll eventually get through. Noodler's eel cactus fruit will eventually be loaded into Pilot Elite 95s,

Other writing/drawing stuff

Brand Model Notes
Deleter Free Pen holder Use it for dip nibs and even some lino carving cutter heads haha
Tachikawa Nikko G For inks that don't go in my fountain pens
Pentel Energel Infree 0.5 Fast drying ink, apparently
Pentel Fude pocket brush pen and Fude brush pen I've had these forever...
Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil 0.5mm Sharp point forever!
Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Exclusively for erasable blue lead...
Stabilo Left Right mechanical pencil 2mm For fattier lead
Prismacolor Travel sharpener Weirdest stubby cigar shape but it works and keeps shavings contained. Inside looks like a magnesium Kum sharpener
Prismacolor Col Erase in various colours (terra cotta, light green, scarlet red, white, non-photo blue) TBH these are only marginally more erasable, so still looking for better ones

I have so much more than this but this is...the top of the pile.

Book and zine-making

Brand Model Notes
Olfa Small stationery cutter Cut all the paper...
Lineco Bone folder Fold and score all the zines/books!
Durodex 200-DX stack cutter Wai did the research on this and recommended!
Max HD-10V 2-way stapler Industrial design genious, SOOO much better than those huge and heavy long-arm staplers (if your zines are small)
Gruschwitz Bookbinding no. 30/3 linen thread I just switched to this from Lineco bookbinding thread (way more affordable)...

Other favourites

Brand Model Notes
Philips Sonicare BreathRx tongue scaper Life changing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Austin x Fountain pen

FPR Himalaya v2 GT in saffron orange acrylic.

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Living my best shameless life by combining 2 of my nerdy passions: original characters (OCs) and fountain pens!! The main reason that I'm posting is because it's Austin's birthday (September 24) according to HWA lore! I actually don't really think much about their birthdays, but now that the dates are written in my planner, I see it and feel guilty if I don't do anything, haha.

So here it is, Austin, drawn with fountain pen ink that I have on hand.

The specific pen I paired with Austin is the Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) Himalaya v2 GT, saffron orange acrylic body, steel EF ultra flex nib. I always associate him with orange plaid/checks, so a orange patterned acrylic body felt suitable. He is also more warm overall, so gold-tone or brassy accents were appropriate. Two-tone steel flex nib, well, he is a flexible kind of guy (in many ways...).

I didn't have any patterned pens in my collection so this was a welcome addition. The pen is more saturated orange IRL, and also has depth, pearlescence, and some opacity. Photos below are more accurate to the IRL colours!

OC-nerdery aside, the pen did take quite a bit of tinkering/reseating the feed and nib/heat setting to get working properly. Seems to be a trend with my ebonite feed pens. I currently have Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake ink sample loaded in it. I'm not great at writing with flex, but the pen also writes wet and a-okay without pressure; it's a fun writer. The FPR ultra-flex is a LOT more responsive to downward pressure (leading to flex/separation of tines) than the Rangapens kanwrite flex nib; closer to the responsiveness of a Nikko G-nib, perhaps? I have a natural tendency to write fast, so my flex writing does tend to railroad because the ink doesn't fully keep up right now (though I don't mind that effect, nor do I plan to always flex write).

My photos don't do justice to the ink colours! All of the inks I used (minus the black) have really nice shading:

Austin is unlikely to use a fountain pen in his EDC. He's more of a Fisher pen, Pokka pens, pencils, and Rite in the Rain guy. Probably used that stuff when he was out in the field for grad school. He needs the all-weather stuff!

Happy birthday Austin! A real gift birthday gift to Austin, would be a Jake, so...

Today's music post: Sly5thAve's The First 8 Minutes [ATCQ "Find a Way" Tribute] feat. The ClubCasa Chamber Orchestra.

Ranga Pens 'sugarcane' in olive ebonite

Sugarcane-shaped fountain pen for a plant lover.

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I have a big soft spot for anything that is handmade. Here's a formula that gets my attention: Handmade + fountain pen + plant = HECK YEA!

I ordered a handmade Indian pen from Ranga Pens. The model I chose was a regular-sized sugarcane eyedropper fountain pen in olive ebonite, matte finish, and steel flex nib. According to their website, the pens are made by a father and son team, M.S. Pandurangan and M.P. Kandan and they both rely on traditional and old school methods of pen making. CRAFT! RESPECT!

India Post was down for a long time (and continues to be down at original time of writing) so the folks at Ranga Pens had to switch to UPS for shipping, which incurred an additional cost, but that's expected. Disregarding the UPS package was that throw over the box, the package came wrapped in a sewn cotton (?) sleeve with the addresses written in pen. I found it very endearing! This is perhaps the 2nd time I've received a cloth package (the first time being Nights in White Flannel).

The box is reasonably sized and I can appreciate its no frills nature. I'm always sad about gigantic showcase boxes, because I use all my pens, I don't store them. This is also true of watches! Big empty boxes taking up space, bah!

Inside the package was a business card, a bonus/free fountain pen, the actual sugarcane pen, and a Wality "special" fine tipped nib (two toned) and ebonite feed.

The free/extra "Oliver Exam" piston-filled pen is probably made out of resin because it has a strange smell to it. Oliver Exam is going to air out in the sun for a while, so I won't be writing about it today.

I am really happy with how naturally planty the sugarcane pen looks! The sound and feeling of the ebonite has a lot of similarities with the bamboo brushes that I have (though heavier). I actually feel like I'm holding a mini bamboo flute or whistle when I'm holding this pen (yea I know it's called 'sugarcane'), which I also had growing up. I actually have a hard time telling which side is up or down for the pen cause the seam is just off-centre. The ebonite itself has some natural speckles and I think there is some "grain" left from the handworking, so overall it has a great organic look to the exterior.

I chose a "steel flex" nib when ordering, which resulted in a Kanwrite steel nib. I don't have a flex nib (other than my actual dip nibs; nikko g) in my collection, so I thought it would be a fun choice. The Kanwrite nib is pretty hard; I wouldn't really say that it's a flex nib unless you put a lot of pressure down when you write. I don't use a lot of pressure because I already have a bunch of wrist issues, so the pen became a F/M nib in my hand.

Perhaps I didn't get to test the flex to its max capabilities because of issues below.

When I first started using it, it was super wet and leaking from the feed. I didn't even realize this until it was too late, but a bunch of ink had seeped into the cap without my knowing, so when I re-capped the pen, ink got allll over my paper!

I tried heat-setting it a few times but no help. I was getting sad because I love the pen body but the pen was functionally useless to me if it leaked. Eventually I found the confidence to yank the nib/feed out and put some silicon grease on the feed itself, then heat set it again. No improvement! Over time it stopped writing and continue to leak.

Later on I swapped the Wality nib with the Kanwrite nib and kept the existing feed. Still wet, still leaking, but not as much. Heat set a few more times. Eventually I got it to STOP leaking, but the feed position is really close to the tip, so it's no longer a juicy writer. It writes more like a rollerball now?

Well, that's better than a leaking machine at least! The nib is also very hard. I do like the 2-tone look of the nib with the olive body though.

I might futz with the nib/feed more later, but for now I'm relieved to have a pen that writes and doesn't LEAK! Ideally it would be a LIL bit more juicy. I also have Diamine Meadow inked up in a Platinum Preppy and the ink looks super different (much darker). My guess is that there is still some residual water diluting the ink from all the heat setting. The final charm point of this pen is that it can stand vertical on a flat surface! Hehe...

Ink: Diamine Meadow Paper: 52gsm Tomoe River, white

Note: a few days after I drafted the above post, I ended up yanking out the wality nib and tried the kanwrite one again. It took very long to get it to work but finally it's not leaking like crazy, is writing, and is a bit juicier. I keep the pen upright at my desk now!

I don't write in a very flexy way (I save my flexing for drawing...) and my cursive is sorely out of practice. Still have to press/grip hard for any flex, and it really digs into the paper! It was an interesting learning to see how the relative distance of feed and nib changes ink flow. Now my feed is closer to the tip than it was when it originally came. I probably re-seated the feed/nib and heat set them over 10x.

Today's music post: Sanubar Tursun - Didar ghenimet.

Tomoe River and Opus 88 Omar

I failed at bookbinding this stack of Tomoe River sheets.

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I mentioned Tomoe River paper in my previous stationery post. Notebooks with Tomoe River paper are known to be on the pricier side, so when I found some A4 sheets for a reasonable price, I decided that I'd make my own A5 notebooks with less page count.

On the far right, there's the chonker Opus 88 Omar in yellow. I had Opus 88 eyedropper pens on my wishlist for a while now, because I was always sad to not be able to bring a fountain pen on planes without worrying about their ink exploding. It's still possible for this pen to explode ink, but it has a feature to shut off the ink from going into the feed (I think it's called japanese-style eyedropper), which is very appealing! I was gunning for the clear demonstrator (it wasn't on sale haha) but I am now kind of enamoured by how Omar in yellow looks like the fat baby of my TWSBI Eco clear x Lamy Safari yellow. It's a really fat pen...I read reviews about how it can cause hand fatigue, especially for small hands. I am also a small handed person but I suppose I'm generally not writing for hours straight.

The barrel of yellow Omar is semi translucent with a yellow/green tinge, but you can see the ink levels and ink colour within. Right now I have Lamy turmaline inside. I chose a M nib because you gotta use up the ink!!! It writes very smoothly. It does take more turns to unscrew the cap, so it's not a quick reactive pen...

The Tomoe River paper I chose is 52gsm (100 sheets, 200 pages), it's significantly thinner than my Midori MD notebook diary (175 pages). Practically half the width?

I took 30 A4 sheets and made 3 signatures with 10 A4 sheets each. I also folded some cardstock I had for the covers. Purist bookbinders will scoff at how I'm likely folding against the paper grain (I always do, TBH, ziney DIY forever!). I didn't want to deal with spine width, so it's just exposed.

I was over-confident about my signature sewing abilities...after making many HWA books I thought I was a-okay, but I forgot that I didn't have arms/bands to attach the signatures to, so my book block was super loose and I had to hack it together with knots. It's riddled with rookie mistakes that could've been avoided if I just used my brain to think instead of relying on my previous auto-pilot program. Thus, the block is not as tight/compact/neat/aligned as I would want. It's kind of embarrassing, but nobody will really see it anyway.

To cover my shame I used some washi tape on the spine and on the covers. It's B-side label washi tape that I think someone gifted to me long ago. Maybe due to age, but I find that the glue on this tape transferred to the tape underneath (on the roll) so overall it's not sticky in the right way?

At the end of the day, what mattered to me was having something lightweight and that laid flat. When folded to A5, this means this notebook has about 120 pages to write on (front/back).

Pens do write smoothly on this paper. As expected, there are longer drying times and susceptibility to smudging. Although the paper is thin, I don't personally mind the show through.

I still have 70 A4 sheets left, which translates to 560 A5 pages to write on in the future.

Mostly by accident, I found out that Borden and Riley's #37 Boris Marker layout paper is also a potential choice for fountain pens users. These are not particularly great photos for colour accuracy, but I don't see any bleed through at all.

Makes sense since it was made for markers! It has more tooth if people like feedback. I had a bunch from my traditional inking/drawing days. I still have so many pads of paris bleedproof paper...

Price wise you do get more bang for your buck with Tomoe River than artist supplies...ahhhh

Today's music post: Evig Pint by Kaizers Orchestra. My friend Mike introduced this band to me a long time ago. I'm actually listening to their music for the first time with new earphones and it feels like a whole new experience...!

Stationery haul: Midori MD, Platinum carbon black desk pen, J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe, Diamine Meadow

Also a list of Canadian fountain pen-friendly stores at the end.

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I get really into product research, especially before a purchase. It doesn't even have to be a significant $ purchase...but I'll still spend 10-40h+++++ looking around, making sure I know ALL the options, am supporting the BEST shop, and am investing in the BEST thing. Oftentimes I don't find exactly what I want and I default to the easiest option instead...

This time, the topic of my research fervor were fountain pens (FP) and fountain pen-friendly paper/journals (to a lesser degree, inks). The reason for this is because I made a decision to get back into journaling. At work I've nearly moved to full digital to save on paper and print outs. In my personal life I'm a mix of both. For a few years I maintained a 5-year journal but I travelled a lot and carrying this giant thing around was unideal for a minimalist packer. I abandoned it 3.5 years in because it became incomprehensible. Also the paper was not FP friendly. What I did like about it was that it had limited space for every day so it was a very easy task to write a sentence or two.

I actually don't remember when I got my first fountain pen; it quite a few years ago. It's a Safari Lamy (fine) in yellow. After that I got a Pilot Metropolitan (medium) and V-pen. These are all what the "community" would describe as "beginner pens" but I'm honestly quite satisfied with them! Don't have to be too precious. I love the feedback that fountain pen nib gives you on paper, as well as the idea of not chucking disposable plastic pen bodies into the waste, because you can refill fountain pens (I use converters/piston/syringe). After all those I also got some Platinum Preppys and a TSWBI Eco clear (stub). Many people who get one fountain pen end up with many more because it opens up a whole new world of drawing/writing in whatever colour you want.

Although I was enjoying my fountain pens, the Moleskine I was using at the time was really bad for it. After I moved on to Leuchtturm1917 it got a little better, but still significant bleed through with the wet inks I had (I have an entry about my Leuchtturm). Then I got a blank Traveler's Notebook insert, which has Midori MD paper. WOW!!! GAMEEEEEEEEEE CHANGER!!!!!!!!!! My beef with the Traveler's Notebook (TN) was that its regular sized TN system is slim A5, and I prefer full A5. So the hunt continues.

Luckily Midori uses their Midori MD paper in A5 size (and others) to make notebooks beyond the Traveler's Notebook brand. I hope you all take some time to browse Midori MD's website because it's Japanese minimalism at its finest. Their craft page in particular gives you a behind the scene look at how they make their products, which really appeals to my love for artisanal products.

The other product that came up on my radar was Tomoe River paper, which is known to be in Hobonichi Techo (daily/weekly planners). All reviews mentioned that while it is VERY nice to write on, it was very see-through (though they have both 52gsm and 68gsm weights now), the ink takes longer to dry, and it's harder to find/more expensive. It's known to be the best paper to show off fountain pen inks with sheen in them!

For now I decided to get Midori MD Notebook Diary (A5) because they actually had suppliers readily in Canada with stock. What attracted me to Midori MD books was how clean it was, lay-flat, amazing white space around the calendar, and FP-friendliness. It also has covers and notebooks in sizes that are cross compatible with other brands. Since it's halfway through 2020 I got a DEEP DISCOUNT on this 2020 planner ;)

I also got a Platinum carbon black desk pen [EF]. I wanted this for waterproof ink and assume that the fountain pen feed is optimized to take pigmented ink. I thought it was going to be REALLY EF but I've used 0.05 pigment liners before so this didn't feel that extra fine to me. I feel reassured that a steel nib is more reliable than the pigment liners tips though! The EF nib definitely has more feedback, so I'll have to get used to it. Now I can really phase out my fineliners and write on envelopes!

Also got 2 new inks to round out my warmer ink collection (not shown: Noodler's cactus red). This includes J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe and Diamine Meadow. I don't have any consistent brands!

Shortly after I took a cutter to the pen and cut it down to length. Now the cap posts properly. Maybe it's slightly too short now??? Good thing I have small hands, haha.

During my research I uncovered several new online Canadian stationery stores that I didn't know about. I always try to avoid evilRiver website. The list is below!

Canadian online stores for fountain pen, ink, and/or paper

Please note that I don't have personal experience with all of these shops (^ means I have). A bunch of them were brick and mortar only, but were forced to go online with COVID-19. Please support local if you can!







The Maritimes

Pen shows

Today's music post: Bloodywood - Machi Bhasad (Expect a Riot). Bloodywood is a metal band from New Delhi, India. I enjoy the cultural mix of sounds/instruments and visuals! Their new and original releases are quite wholesome with regards to their messaging, and they've paired philanthropy with the releases as well. You can support their Patreon!